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GM Head Says Web Will Help Sales

January 18, 2000

DETROIT (AP) _ General Motors Corp. chairman and CEO Jack Smith says the world’s largest automaker will use its Internet sites to increase annual U.S. vehicle sales by 50,000 to 100,000, or by about 1 to 2 percent.

In prepared remarks for the Automotive News World Congress on Monday, Smith made clear the Internet will play a growing role in the company’s strategy.

Smith said GM already gets 650,000 visits to its BuyPower Web site a month, and the company will try to increase that number by 10 or 15 times this year. BuyPower tracks inventory at GM dealers and offers financing through General Motors Acceptance Corp.

``This will in turn drive more visits to our dealers’ showrooms,″ Smith said. ``We are confident that this strategy will make us the industry leader in interacting with customers on the Internet.″

Other Web-based services in the works include development of an online system for custom-building cars and trucks to consumer specifications.

Smith also said GM expects business done on its TradeXchange business-to-business Web site for suppliers to grow to $50 billion this year, and that other automakers were expected to join the system this year.

GM has said it will soon move all of its $87 billion in purchases each year onto TradeXchange, and require its 30,000 suppliers to use it. GM has logged $1 million in business on TradeXchange since its inception in November.

GM also will increase its subscribers to OnStar _ a cellular-based emergency service _ from about 100,000 to 1 million this year by installing the OnStar hardware at the factory. Smith said OnStar’s growth potential rivaled that of Internet companies, and that GM was working on a deal with a mobile phone company to offer full cellular service through OnStar.

``You will be hearing a lot more about new e-business and e-commerce alliances over the next few months, and I mean a lot more,″ Smith said.

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